Thursday, June 30, 2011

Douglas Snelling

Over the past five years I have been battling an addiction. Yes readers I have succumbed to the boomerang-like charms of the Snelling chair. I should actually correct myself and say 'chairs' as I have three profiles ranging from the simple dining, a covetable armchair, and finally the languorous lounge piece shown in the photo above. Douglas Snelling (1917 - 1985) is another Australian designer with a remarkable and indeed tangible legacy. His pieces sit proudly in the Powerhouse Museum Collection and are regularly featured throughout editorial stories in interiors publications. His unique spin on re-using parachute webbing at the end of the Second World War pre-empted industrial recycling. 

I have restored and re-webbed many of his chairs in a diverse range of  hues. They hunker down nicely in any setting involving 1950's style furniture or graphic fabric prints. To me they always have a 'welcome home' appeal.  The way the fabric molds itself to you belies it's simple wooden substructure. One word of warning to those considering putting one in a sunny corner of your home. I have another chair identical to the one shown above which resided in my Sydney store for some four months. The webbing went from a rich red to peach after a daily dose of sunshine. I have a set that I'm re-webbing for my dinner table in the spring. I'll show my progress with this DIY adventure as it gets underway. I may even share some tips from my sensational upholsterer!

Image : Brian Tunks

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cathrineholm Enamelware

Lush colours... check! Striking simple motif... check! Interesting design pedigree... check! Welcome to the wonderful world of Cathrineholm. Choose from another five misspellings online and people still know exactly what you are referring to. Norwegian designer Grette Prytz Kittelsen (1917 - 2010) created utilitarian kitchenware with a chic Scandinavian aesthetic. The repetition of her 'lotus' motif unified the shapes in her collection and her colours were both innovative and enticing. Her revolutionary manufacturing processes impacted upon large-scale production in the decades to come. Her talent was recognised with a number of awards, one of which was a Fulbright scholarship to study in the USA. 

I recollect dining at the homes of friends in Malmo in the early 80's and many families still used some of her saucepans and spice containers. As my own taste veers towards repetitive patterns I find her range cohesive rather than over decorated or jarring. I have a selection of pieces myself but have found that specific colours (particularly the rich red) are increasingly rare and sell for high figures. Compared to other enamelware such as the contemporary Reiss range or vintage Finel the Cathrineholm series is one I never tire of. It actually layers particularly well with other forms such as a stack of plain coloured plates or bamboo trays. 

Apologies for the generic image. My car is being serviced and I couldn't get to my studio to shoot my own pieces for this post. Stay tuned... 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Depression Glass

This glass container comes from my grandmother's home. It sits in my kitchen cupboard and I'm never quite sure if I should use it or keep it for my nieces and nephews. Terrifying thought really... akin to having a 'good' room for company at home! The story behind this piece is that while my grandparents were getting married in Sydney some brazen thieves took a van to their home and loaded up all their wedding presents. One of the few escapees was this butter container.

Typical of green depression glassware it is heavy but functional. I love the weight of it and the play of the light along the ridges when it's in the sunlight on my bench. Far more appealing than clinical metal containers these utilitarian pieces can quite often be found on Ebay and websites specialising in vintage interiors/accessories. During such difficult times it astounds me that the creativity of people under financial duress is heightened rather than suppressed. This is also clearly demonstrated with the emergence of repurposed furniture from that period. (That discussion belongs to another post where I can do it greater justice). In the meantime if you'd like to add to your own collection Etsy has a good selection of American depression glassware.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jeffrey Smart

Clive James describes Smart as "born in Adelaide in 1921, is the modern Australian painter whose paintings look least Australian". He is a beautiful artist with a perspective that marries industrial settings with soft, almost  ethereal, lighting and figures. I realise that he has lived in Italy (Abruzzo) for most of his life but his 'abstract'  style is strangely familiar. Possibly it's his sense of space and placement of people in his works. Some of his settings could pass for the docklands in Botany or any industrial warehousing near our major cities. 

It may be that since the architecture of the modern world has become so homogenised that the empathy you feel for the pictures comes from a recognition of sorts. Nevertheless he is one of the contemporary 'Australian' artists I would love to meet. Having achieved that goal I guess my next issue would be preparing some vaguely intellectual questions to ask him. I know that artists are meant to suffer for their craft but I'd gladly endure extensive pain to have any of his works above my fireplace. 

Image: Final Study of the Rome Metro by Jeffrey Smart.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Asterix and Obelix

As a schoolboy I loved the series of Asterix and Obelix illustrated books written by RenĂ© Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. With some 34 to choose from you could spend your lunchtime pouring over them in the solitude of the school library. (Translation... I wasn't always the first to be picked for the football team!) There I could indulge my escapism while feeding my interest in Ancient Rome. The Gauls always seemed to trounce them and the illustrations were rich and inviting. A sad but true fact is that I became enamoured of imperial Roman architecture based on contemporary cartoon fiction. 

Another aspect to this story is that I am now collecting posters of the aforementioned books and have several. Judging from the difficulty I had in locating them I gather there is a serious collector movement brewing which has clearly exhausted the resources of both Babar and Tin Tin. I was tempted to locate a Donald Duck original poster (my father used to bribe me to go to sunday school with several comics weekly) but they cost somewhere in the vicinity of a small impoverished nation. The above poster (Asterix and Cleopatra) is from 1970 and is written in Swedish. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Potted Bliss

Several years ago my younger brother had a great wedding at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery in Canberra. I was asked (as the 'creative brother') to make some small pots for gifts for the attendees. It was a fantastic day and I filled the small herb pots with succulents to keep it all very understated. Alas the day went off too smoothly with no drunken rants or guests tumbling in to the koi pond. My one highlight was witnessing the casual way some people helped themselves to numbers of the pots to take home. I was both flattered and amused but it confirmed at least that people liked them.

I have always loved orchids. There is something very sensual about the flowers and their heady combination of rich colour and irregular stems. I can never get them to grow after they finish flowering at home but at least this photo keeps their momentary beauty alive for me. This image by D Plummer was shot in our Sydney store with myself arranging props in the background. It shows again how keeping a vignette simple works every time.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Unswept Floor

When we look at contemporary design we are observing the echoes of taste and creativity of people for hundreds of generations. While we think we are being terribly original with new forms we often  fail to acknowledge the influence of our predecessors or the enormous amount of reference material we have in this electronic age. Artistic appropriation is nothing new. The Romans had artisans employed to copy the style of earlier Greek statuary, and Constantine stripped the Empire of art treasures to give his new capital (Istanbul..formally Constantinople) serious design cred. That being said...the one thing these plagiarists couldn't replicate was the initial inspiration and the translation of that into various media. The Devil may be in the detail but it also shows up in the awkwardness of replicas.

The Unswept Floor is the name given to a 2nd Century Roman Mosaic attributed to Herakleitos but assumed to have been based on an earlier work by Sosos of Pergamon  (2nd Century BCE). It became a common theme in villas throughout the Mediterranean. Other themes included deities associated with bounty (cornucopia), the representation of the seasons, gladiators and  theatre sports. Mosaics were clearly status symbols for the home owner but also provide us with an enduring pictorial record of the tastes and foods of that period. The Unswept Floor is a Trompe l'oeil and, while being incredibly beautiful, shows us that the cook  in this kitchen would have given the contestants of Masterchef a run for their money. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

'Face Off' by Avedon

This photo by Avedon is actually one of a series taken for the February 1952 cover of Harper's Bazaar in the US. I  actually have the issue in my collection and the images are amazing. I titled this entry 'Face Off' as it appears as if one of the women pictured is about to take out her companion for wearing the same outfit. Not to mention the fact that the model of the right has really bad posture! As a passive viewer of these images it's easy to overlook the brilliance of the composition and lighting. After all it's just a fashion editorial with two women facing each other..or maybe not.

This style of photography comes from an era  before the advent of photoshop and iMacs. It speaks to the reader on both an aspirational and aesthetic level. It also shows that the slender body type favoured by contemporary editors was alive and well in the 1950's. There is a really dreamlike quality to this shot despite the clarity of the focus and the somewhat crazed lap dog in the frame. When I see this image my immediate reaction is Sufi (Dervish) dancers from Turkey, Chanel suits, and the symmetry in the space between the two subjects. Nevertheless, the outcome of Avedon's work is that we see an elegant scene with sylph-like models..while my confused thoughts need a book on Gestalt psychology to see something that's simply  a beautifully framed moment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trunk Call

Walk through any large contemporary homewares store and you'll probably be confronted by the usual faux Japanese/Korean Chests. They are normally found in the company of the ubiquitus lucky cat with a raised paw or a modern Geisha doll in a glass case. I was introduced to the authentic version over 20 years ago. With their limitless variety and finishes they stood in rows in the many antique stores in High St Armadale.  Their particular beauty stemmed from  smaller details such as inconsistently placed handles or secret drawers.

When you consider that the chest you have sitting in your lounge has resided with numerous families over untold generations, it adds a level of gravitas to an object some would simply regard as another place to put their dvd's. Knowing that our 'ownership' of antiques is more custodial in nature, I often consider how homes and lives intertwine. It is also surprising that the prices for such beautiful pieces are not very much different from reproductions. At least the provenance of their timber is not a matter for concern. My personal favourite is the Tansu I shot at home from the Meiji Period (1868-1912). They are solid but highly portable and are a perfect backdrop for vintage and contemporary vases.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tag Team

Once upon a time there were schools with real books and they were even made from paper..Imagine that! For most of us the scent of fresh Collins books with a pack of sharpened Derwent pencils heralded the start of a new school year. If you were exceptionally spoilt you would have the tin with 72 luscious colours and a whole lot of envy from your friends. Your inability to draw was irrelevant, it was that you had them and your classmates did not. Out of all the books though  it was the atlas which inspired the greatest attention. It hinted of far away countries with exotic sounding names. Rivers wound through these lands as wandering ribbons of blue and high snow-capped mountain ranges were green and normally raised. The maps spoke to you of the potential of travel and the promise of escape from the drudgery of logarithms. 

The above photo illustrates the reincarnation of one such atlas as a series of tantalising gift cards. A talented friend of mine scours local markets and book fairs for damaged books to rebirth for this very purpose. She made a very interesting observation that when people looked at the tags they inevitably went for one which had some geographical significance for them. It could have been the county of their father's birth, a honeymoon to Moorea, or that wistful trip to Graceland! What they did was act as visual prompts for people or a trigger mechanism for a postive association. Not bad for a recycled gift tag!

Photo Brian Tunks

Monday, June 20, 2011

All about Eve

It was my niece's birthday recently and my mind turned to what to get the little girl who has everything. It's great having a discussion with children on what they like because it's always linked back to a colour. 'I like pink things' has been her mantra for a while but when the fairy craze dies down and pony club takes over I wonder if it will still be the same...If you cast your mind back to childhood those with siblings often describe how they had 'their' bowl or cup. My much bigger younger brother and I would frequently scrap about who got what colour and my mother appeased us with a selection from her Harlequin dinnerset. Reflecting on this I may have been influenced to create so many colours so I could be guaranteed of getting what I want!

I have a very talented friend who makes little bombs of happiness (cupcakes) for her business. The above photo illustrates some of her handywork and clearly explains why her spontaneous visits to the studio (armed with a box of these delights) is always anticipated. Should you live in Canberra then a detour to her store is mandatory.

Images David Plummer.  Cupcakes courtesy of Belinda  (

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Colour me happy!

As this post will be my inaugural link with Facebook I thought it best to show an image of one of our Bison stores. Just over 18 months ago, after attending the Simon and Garfunkle Concert in Sydney  I drove in to the city to look at vacant stores. It's strange how a space just commands your attention but this shop did. It had high ceilings and incredible light...almost like a gallery space. As much as you are always never ready when opportunities present themselves...well..I threw caution to the wind and the rest is history.

Paddington has a diverse number of stores. Many of these showcase more individual or less 'mall based' brands. While chains all have their place it is refreshing to see the emergence of so many stand-alone stores in a market awash with dire predictions for retail ( and apparently local design). I would like to thank my wonderful staff in Sydney; Sarah my manager, and Kate and Adela. They provide me with endless ideas for merchandising and are the instigators behind several of my upcoming designs.  I felt that as we near the winter solstice we all could do with a shot of colour. (Image by David Plummer)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ralph Balson

'The Sisters' 1939

'Construction #3' 1941

There's always something quite remarkable about people who are humble but talented. Ralph Balson (1890 - 1964) was an Australian artist who moonlighted as a house painter by day. His work was characterised by a clear development in his styles as he drew on Modernists and abstract artists such as Mondrian. I particularly love his Exhibition from 1941 (Anthony Hordern Gallery. Show titled 'Constructive Painting') which was really his launching pad to a wider audience. To backtrack over more than 30 years of his work you get a clear sense of how he absorbed elements of the artistic movements from Europe and elsewhere and applied them to his interpretations. His 1940's work saw elements of Klee and Kandinsky while his 1930's forms were inspired partly by the Cubist Movement. In the mid 1940's he became enamoured of Einstein and the Theory of Relativity. His non-objective paintings in 1955-56 look almost Pointalist. To have an intellect so open to change and the fearless use of colour and form really drew me to his works. Methinks I'll have to make a lot of pots to get one for Christmas!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's in a name?

One of the most common questions I'm asked is Why Bison? You live in Australia so what's the significance of the logo to where you are located? Well..this two part question deserves a proper response. Let me start by saying my life prior to and after creating Bison was filled with amazing opportunities. After attending school in Malmo (Sweden) and exploring Viking burials and rune stones with inscriptions, I then returned to Australia and studied Ancient History/Classics at ANU (MLitt). Part of my studies took me to Syria where I worked on an archaeological site (Hellenistic) on the Euphrates River just outside Aleppo. There we excavated up on the acropolis and also assisted an anthropologist in the city cemetery (Necropolis). 

To be so immersed in ancient cultures was an incredible privelige and one which allowed me to gain an insight into pottery from numerous periods. Considering we spent weeks gluing broken vessels back together understandably my interest swayed to creating my own intact versions! In such an environment it became the perfect setting for me to study the profiles of Hellenistic and later Roman ceramic forms. In some fragments we dug up you could still discern the potter's fingerprint in the foot, or base, of the objects. It was this personal relationship with the ancient artisans which gave greater significance to the study of these pieces and which spilled over in to my own approach to our handmade forms. 

My mother (also at one time my teacher!) gave me a set of childcare encyclopaedias as a child. They each had a different coloured spine and I loved the one about history. It even had a section about the cave paintings in Altamira (Spain) which had the line drawings of prehistoric bison, bears and deer. What amazed me was how strong these simple but evocative drawings were and how they would have been right at home in a contemporary art space as in a cave painted some 15000 years ago. From this I drew my logo (shown above) as the outline of a bison and registered both the name and the image. As a consequence if you turn over any Bison piece you'll see our logo stamped on the underside. The result of these early books was that I craved the idea of adventure and exploring which in turn led me to my studies. The logo and the name (Bison) are a nod to both the past interests I had and a gesture to the future where I hope to create forms as timeless as the images etched on the walls in Altamira. 

(Prehistoric cave image courtesy of Wikipedia. Bison Logo copyright and created by Brian Tunks). 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sally Potter's 'Orlando'

In 1992 I saw an amazing film by Sally Potter called 'Orlando.' It re-interpreted the book penned by Virginia Woolf with the same name. The androgynous Tilda Swinton was the lead in this production and was incredible in  her portrayal of first a young noble in Tudor England, an ambassador in Turkey, and then a woman fighting to legally hold on to her family estate. While the production values and the themes of this movie hinged on the boundaries created by our genders, the visual references were so vivid for me that this movie was indeed my 'Eureka Moment'. There were dazzling scenes such as skating on the frozen river Thames, the formal gardens at Blenheim Palace, and the exotic architecture of the Far East. Each was more mesmerizing than it's predecessor and by the end of the film I knew I had to do something creative with my future.

At the risk of sounding cliched this film demonstrated to me the power of the visual medium...and how my background as a student of ancient history was to play a role in the formation of my own company. The true talent of Potter was to draw all the elements dramatic tableaus, contemporary music (Jimmy Sommerville from Bronski Beat as an Angel!) and the seismic shifts in the gender divide. This film conveyed to me the potential to translate beauty from concept to reality....from idea to tangible. (All for the bargain price of about $7.00) What an ideal way to save on HECS fees!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

All Hail McQueen!

Flipping through a copy of UK Vogue I noted a credit to Alexander McQueen. It bought back to me how inspirational I found his designs both in terms of historical references and impractical but amazing footwear. Who can forget his collection of alien like models gallumping down the catwalk in nearly 10 inch tall 'Armadillo' shoes.(Spring 2010 Collection) The ethereal, hauntingly beautiful hologram of Kate Moss at the end of his 'Brides of Culloden' (March 2006) show is another of those so-called 'fashion moments' which fuse theatre, design, and music together. To imagine the impact this would have had being shown in the space under the glass pyramid at Le Louvre cannot be underestimated. (YouTube : To turn on the television and see commercial channels riddled with the plague of the millennium (Reality TV) really allows you to see the difference between visionaries like McQueen and Tom Ford as opposed to the culturally devoid realm of the instant celebrity. Shows producing hey presto fashion designers and rock stars whose ascent to the dizzy heights of suburban recognition is only matched by their irrelevance twelve months down the track. It's that sense of history and evolution which creates the interest in design and the means by which it is presented. And who could deny that wearing any of his creations would make for a memorable entrance...even if you were on crutches! Image courtesy of

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Man's Best Fiend

Allow me to introduce you to my Belgian Shepherd,  Inky. This shot (courtesy of Helene Cremona) was taken 8 years ago but to me she'll always be a huge bundle of furry mischief. In a post which has nothing to do with human design or creativity this dog has given me immeasurable pleasure and helped me clear my mind every day. With her brother Claude (RSPCA Rescue) they attract stares and are the best conversation starters I've ever known. If marketeers ever discovered this I'm sure they'd invent speed dog-owner dating!
It's fascinating to observe human behaviour as you approach people with two mid-sized hounds. While they look as if they would be at home in the steppes of Siberia they are almost universally greeted with "oohs and aahs" from people encountering them on my daily walks. There's something quite primal about the way we lead our pets. Even in a suburban context it shows the power of evolution. Considering how much we spoil them it conversely may illustrate how we respond to the actions of animals rather than speech. For me it's very simple....they give me great pleasure and allow the worries of the day to evaporate. All this in the time it takes me to throw a ball for them to fetch...

Monday, June 13, 2011

All Fired Up!

It can be an exhilarating moment we we open the glaze kilns each day. To be greeted with wall of colour and a wave of warm air (particularly when the studio is near freezing in Winter) is a seminal moment. This is the point at which all your hard work becomes tangible. The skill of the potters, the focus of the glazing team, and the the obvious attention to detail all manifest themselves as this load is unpacked. When you craft objects with a team of artisans a multitude of things can...and do...go wrong. A speck of dust can settle on a bowl before glazing creating a pinhole. Kiln wash can fall from a setter on to a plate underneath; people packing a kiln load can chip a penguin vase against another piece as they attempt to place it carefully on a shelf, or glaze from the red bottle above may settle on a rim as it's packed. The fact that we can obtain so many first quality pieces from each load is a testimony to the determination and skill of the people who work with us at Bison. They too share my excitement when they unload a firing and see the simple beauty in the colours and how each load has different combinations and permutations of tone and form. Photo Brian Tunks
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Utilitarian or Vintage?

One of my pet hates is how we purchase appliances, tools and the like with the expectation that they will deteriorate and need to be replaced. How we can marry this designed obsolescence to the imperative to be environmentally sustainable seems an impossible mismatch. I found this drill (hand-powered) along with a fishing reel made by my grandfather. They raised some interesting questions for me. Firstly, when does an object lose it's utility and become a piece worthy of collection or being called "vintage"? Does it have value merely because it has nostalgic meaning for us or because we see some intrinsic currency in it's utilitarian past? While I'm no psychologist, I wonder if we relate to objects and forms which have a direct correlation to our childhood experiences or visual references. Put simply, does our past determine the collectibility of objects in the future?

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Crocodiles and Missionaries

Against a backdrop of mangroves and yachts sailing by, this palm fringed Church grabbed my attention. Far North Queensland has amazing topography with tropical vegetation along the coastal regions. This Church in Port Douglas took me back to a rural childhood with CWA morning teas and Sunday school. Backing onto a mangrove next to a crocodile warning sign (Achtung...Germans being their favourite nationality apparently!) the simple architecture...somewhat Calvinistic seemed in perfect harmony with the verdant palm trees surrounding it. Photo David Plummer

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pyrometric Cones

Often we get people coming through our stores asking how we get our glazes so even. When you consider that our kilns are 27 cubic feet you can imagine how difficult it is to keep the temperature stable throughout the whole firing cycle. At Bison we fire our pieces twice...the first firing (Bisque) takes off the moisture and organic impurities in the clay body. The second (Glost ) is where we place the glaze on the vessels and fire them until the fine stoneware clay is vitrified. You can use electronic temperature readers but the tried and true method for many potters is to use  pyrometric cones. These little cones are placed in a small lump of clay and sit just behind the bung or observation holes in the kiln door. They are designed to bend when the heat work in the gas kiln reaches specific temperatures. We normally use one cone to let us know that the kiln is approaching maximum heat and the second one just bends slightly alerting us to turn off the kiln. The third cone is to show if we have gone above our normal firing range which can impact on the glaze finish of the pieces. For such a creative industry we certainly marry a lot of science together with design to get the end result. Kids love the cones as they look like dinosaur teeth...they also would make a great installation piece! In the second image you are looking through the kiln door at the cone in the red heat. Photos courtesy of David Plummer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bison Mini Milk Bottles

In one of those rare lucid moments during my working day I thought 'wouldn't it be great to make a regatta of small bamboo trays with spoons for oars. I could have three of my Bison Mini Milk Bottles as the rowers!!!'   Well... the result of that burst of inspiration is clear for all to see. Photographed by David Plummer (my long-suffering photographer) I liked the way this image was very simple and almost naive. Quite often I'm surprised by the sheer volume of props used in editorial photography. What starts out as a fantastic grouping of objects ends up groaning under a sea of 'just so' folded napkins and artfully arranged cutlery. It has echoes of too much pattern being used to hide poor design. Call me old fashioned but I like the image to be clean and allow a couple of props to create the context... not the entire contents of Crate and Barrel. (Disclaimer: Please note  that I too have been  guilty of the aforementioned crime of 'overstyling')

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Fashion Treadmill

It's hard to imagine this image (Cover shot by Steven Meisel Vogue Italia October 1994) is nearly 17 years old. While you may recognise the models (Caroline Murphy and Guinevere van Seenus) what interests me is that the styling and use of colour is so powerful. The mirror image reminds me of the Horst (1955)  shot of the Bouvier Sisters (soon to be Jacqueline Kennedy and Lee Radziwill) and the clothing looks very 30's, with a nod to the 60's for the pattern in the fabric. What images like this suggest is that we exist in a world where inspiration is drawn like chocolates on a tray...we graze and pick the flavours we like the most. I love this image because the use of the bold colours in the box forms can be either modern display or sit right at home in a shoot for Metropolis. I suppose the positive spin with this is that no one can accuse the fashion world of not recycling...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hans Zegeling's "Town Children"

Hans Zegeling is a fantastic Dutch Artist (1934 - ) who besides painting on canvas creates quite modernist installations. This piece was purchased by my partner and I love it's reflective mood and colour saturation. If you observe it at length it draws you in and the children appear in the foreground with the typical Dutch Village architecture as a reference point. It's one of those pictures that says to me "I'm home!", and no matter how preoccupied I am with the events of the day it gives me a shot of visual meditation! Also it has heaps of beautiful colours and for a tone junkie like myself that's always a plus...

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Winter Sunlight

In my studio at Bison we have a talented team of artisans who bring me enormous pleasure every day. We are incredibly privileged to work in an industry where we can create objects of beauty..get amazingly supportive feedback..and be financially viable. Across most of the world many production studios have closed owing to the rapid growth of mass-manufacturers. We, however, will not be one of those! Today's image comes courtesy of a staff member 'showing me the light' as it were. Late afternoon sunshine was streaming through the studio and hit the shelves with drying greenware (pieces which have been recently thrown/slipped or pressed) which are then placed in the kilns for the first of two firings. The second image shows one of our kilns stacked to the brim with bisqued (once fired) pieces...cooling and waiting for us to glaze and pack them for the final kiln firing which gives pieces their wonderful hues. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Reflections on Amsterdam

It's a cold 10 degree celcius day in Canberra and I was reflecting on how many found objects are the basis for creating a form or bringing a colour in to my collection. I spent a wonderful month in Europe and Mexico last year and my partner gave me this amazing bunch of peonies in the Amsterdam Flower Markets. They lasted nearly 2 weeks and the dappled light made them look like piles of tulle or crepe paper. The colour became a reference point for me creating a new glaze. Juxtaposed against the streetscape of our 16th Century apartment (3 floors of steps better suited to the feet of a toddler!) the flowers looked better each day until they abandoned all hope and the table was littered with piles of what looked like pink fabric swatches. Please excuse the quality of the images... I took them with my phone.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day One - Hello Earthlings!

Hello.  Welcome to The Daily belated attempt to join the 21st Century! As a former Ancient Historian (and survivor of Archaeological Digs in Syria) I'm going to use this blog as my daily dose of enforced calmness. In a world which bombards us with so much planned obsolescence and cultural landfill I hope you'll join with me in appreciating the simple, yet beautiful, things in our daily lives. This can range from sharing a new design we've made at Bison to a recipe for salmon mousse. It will cover emerging design trends which filter through the blogosphere like droplets of inspiration..and even self-indulgent shots of my two Belgian Shepherds. It seems that the more complex our lives become the more we seek warmth and solace in our surroundings. I hope that my posts will show that simplicity and classic design never date..and that the design community is as diverse as the objects or people we admire.

Brian Tunks
Creative Director/Bison Australia.